For the second year in the row, college football’s biggest prize will be decided between challenger Clemson Tigers and defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide (8pm ET Monday on ESPN).
Last year’s College Football Playoff National Championship contest between the two developing rivals was a shootout with 85 total points scored and over 1,000 total yards. It was a fantastic showcase of offensive talent, especially in the fourth quarter. The two teams entered the final quarter tied at 24 points apiece and then proceeded to score 40 more with alternating scores. Alabama got the first fourth quarter lead though and never relinquished it en route to winning yet another national title.
This year for the rematch, it’s the same teams, the same coaches and in some cases the same players, but for everything that has stayed the same, there will be a lot of differences on display Monday night too. When it comes to considering my betting predictions and picks, this game may not prove to be a simple repeat preview of last year’s, for starters Clemson is not going to be scoring 40 points. At least, not if the hands down best defense in the country has anything to say about it.
Alabama’s defense has been an absolute juggernaut and in an undefeated season, has led the team to some pretty lopsided victories. They finished as the top ranked defense in all of college football but more than that, some have even heaped praise upon this unit as one of the best defenses of all-time. They have forced 27 turnovers this year and have scored 11 defensive touchdowns, nine of which came against ranked opponents.
This is a defense that has already faced 10 opponents ranked in the top 40 of offensive efficiency, five quarterbacks ranked top-25 in Total QBR and 10 players who rushed for more than 1,000 yards on the season. According to the stats, Alabama’s defense held each of those players to an average of less than 31 yards per game against them. With the exception of Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly and Arkansas’ Austin Allen, no QB topped 300 yards against Alabama. In fact, the signal callers averaged just over 143 yards per game against the incredibly tough Crimson Tide defense.
Needless to say, Alabama’s defense has been great and worthy of all of the high praise. But their biggest test comes on Monday as they face one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Clemson’s Deshaun Watson (pictured).
In contrast to Alabama’s staunch defensive numbers, Watson is a guy who has thrown for over 300 yards on many an occasion this year. He is a two-time Heisman trophy finalist and has 4,173 passing yards and 38 touchdowns through the air and another 586 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Not to mention, he’s the same guy who absolutely torched Alabama’s defense in last year’s title game to the tune of 478 total yards and four touchdowns.
Clemson had their chances last year and that was because Watson kept the Tigers in the game. He managed to evade the Crimson Tide pass rush, which is one of the best in football, and scrambled to keep plays alive. Outside of the pocket in these pressure situations, Watson completed six of nine passes for 140 of his almost 500 yards.
Stopping Watson is no doubt Alabama’s biggest challenge and it is the one that will determine if the Crimson Tide can continue their dynastic run or if Clemson will finally be able to best their SEC foe. This defense is hungrier than ever before and they will no doubt be looking forward to the chance to have another crack at Watson. If they do manage to stop him, then perhaps talk of this defense as the best ever might not be so crazy after all.
Our CFP Preview’s Alabama vs Clemson Betting Predictions & Picks
Clemson’s offense taking on Alabama’s defense is not only the story of this game but really the one of the entire college football season. That is because the national title game is being fought between two powerhouses with equal but opposite strengths. Defense historically wins championships but if Watson has his say, it will be college’s 13th best offense that takes home the title for the first time in the Dabo Swinney era.
Both teams are coming off of dominating bowl wins, with Alabama unsurprisingly crushing Washington and Clemson embarrassingly shutting out Ohio State. Neither has looked better than they do right now and that sets this up to be one of the best college football championship games of all time.
There is no better way to end the 2016-17 college football season than with these two teams once again fighting for supremacy.
It’s near impossible to pick against a team which has been as good and as consistent as Alabama, but I’m going to do just that based on the spread currently offered. Alabama is favored by 6.5 points in the online betting from the USA sportsbooks, but I see Clemson besting that margin, win or lose. Offensively, Watson is too good and if ever there was a QB who could expose the minor and I mean minor weaknesses in Alabama’s defense, it’s him.
Here are our preview’s betting picks and predictions for this Clemson vs Alabama national championship title game:
- Take the Tigers +6.5pts @ -108 with BetOnline Sportsbook. It is -110 for the same spread with 5Dimes and +6pts @ -105 with Bovada.
- The total points to be scored is set around the 50.5pts mark by the sportsbooks. If this is anything like last year, expect the score to go well over that. Go over 50.5pts @ -107 with BetOnline. It is -110 for the identical points total with 5Dimes and over 51pts @ -115 with Bovada.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.